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Low Entropy Networks

Soft Matter or soft material is a general term for soft substances and is present everywhere around us, such as in gels, liquid crystals, and biological tissues. Soft Matter is indispensable for solving various modern societal challenges, including aging, environmental pollution, and resource shortages. For example, as society ages, the need for artificial organs (such as artificial hearts and artificial joints) and reconstructive medical/nursing equipment (such as endoscopes and robots, etc.) are increasing. Traditional materials such as metals, ceramics, and plastics do not meet requirements for these biomedical purposes, as these materials, such as Hard Matter, demonstrate poor mechanical compatibility with biological tissues.


A flexible polymer network, such as a gel or an elastomer, typically consists of coiled network strands, and the strands are in a high entropy state capable of various conformations due to thermal fluctuation. Deformation of the material only causes entropy change of the network strands while the chemical bonds on the strands remain intact. Therefore, the mechanical behaviors of conventional polymer networks only depend on the topological structure of the network, independent of the chemical structure of the polymer strands.


In this study, we define a gel and elastomer with extremely elongated network strands as a new soft matter "Low entropy polymer network (LeNet)". We will establish a synthesis method of LeNet and elucidate the mechanical properties peculiar to LeNet. Furthermore, we will create elastic materials, mechanically induced functionalized materials, soft composite materials with controlled microstructure, etc. that have the individuality of chemical species derived from the unique structure of this material.

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